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A three-constituent damage model for arterial clamping in computer-assisted surgery

Abstract

Robotic surgery is an attractive, minimally invasive and high precision alternative to conventional surgical procedures. However, it lacks the natural touch and force feedback that allows the surgeon to control safe tissue manipulation. This is an important problem in standard surgical procedures such as clamping, which might induce severe tissue damage. In complex, heterogeneous, large deformation scenarios, the limits of the safe loading regime beyond which tissue damage occurs are unknown. Here, we show that a continuum damage model for arteries, implemented in a finite element setting, can help to predict arterial stiffness degradation and to identify critical loading regimes. The model consists of the main mechanical constituents of arterial tissue: extracellular matrix, collagen fibres and smooth muscle cells. All constituents are allowed to degrade independently in response to mechanical overload. To demonstrate the modularity and portability of the proposed model, we implement it in a commercial finite element programme, which allows to keep track of damage progression via internal variables. The loading history during arterial clamping is simulated through four successive steps, incorporating residual strains. The results of our first prototype simulation demonstrate significant regional variations in smooth muscle cell damage. In three additional steps, this damage is evaluated by simulating an isometric contraction experiment. The entire finite element simulation is finally compared with actual in vivo experiments. In the short term, our computational simulation tool can be useful to optimise surgical tools with the goal to minimise tissue damage. In the long term, it can potentially be used to inform computer-assisted surgery and identify safe loading regimes, in real time, to minimise tissue damage during robotic tissue manipulation.

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Correspondence to Nele Famaey.

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Famaey, N., Vander Sloten, J. & Kuhl, E. A three-constituent damage model for arterial clamping in computer-assisted surgery. Biomech Model Mechanobiol 12, 123–136 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-012-0386-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-012-0386-7

Keywords

  • Artery
  • Damage
  • Smooth muscle cells
  • Active contraction
  • Residual stress
  • Finite elements